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Letting agents' responsibilities

Letting agents' responsibilities

Any self respecting neighbourhood is likely to have its fair share of tenants, but, while most blend in, some stick out like a sore thumb, driving neighbours around the proverbial bend. Legal expert and real estate agent Jaco Rademeyer takes us through the duties and responsibilities of letting agents and the recourse that neighbours have.

You can choose your home, but certainly not your neighbours. This was proven again when I recently came across a frustrated homeowner who was at his wit's end about the terrible state of a house and yard occupied by tenants in his street.

He recounted a shocking tale of cars and trucks being repaired on the premises, broken off drainage pipes and sewerage running down the street. The letting agent and tenants allegedly do not respond to complaints and it has come to light that the tenants have not paid rent for the past three months.

Usually there is a mandate contract between a property owner and a letting agent stipulating the agent's responsibilities. These could be limited to, for example, finding a suitable tenant, doing credit checks on the prospective tenant and collecting the rent.

The mandate may however also include administrative duties like inspecting the property on a regular basis and arranging for repairs and maintenance up to an agreed amount. These duties can also include bringing complaints from neighbours to the tenant's attention and ensuring that they are addressed.

In the latter instance, there is a contractual obligation on the agent to execute these duties in a diligent manner. Failure to do so, could lead to the agent being held liable for damages like loss of rental income, eviction costs, damage to the property, etc.

If the relevant property is in a development where there is a homeowners' association, the constitution and house rules usually authorise the association to take steps against tenants or force the owner to take responsibility for the problem.

If there is no such controlling body, I suggest approaching the municipality. They are legally authorised to force the property owner and tenants to comply with municipal laws.

The title deed conditions of a property often include the conditions that were imposed by the municipality when the development of the neighbourhood was approved and these limit the owners and tenants' use of the property.

If all else fails, the neighbours can force the property owner to deal with the complaints by way of a court order. Their right to institute action arises from the fact that their enjoyment of their own properties are limited by the tenant's actions and that the value of their properties are affected.


Disclaimer: The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Estates Report and/or its partners.